Brown Rice Much Superior to White Rice for Health Outcomes
Source: International Journal of Molecular Science (January 2023)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (January 25, 2023)
Many of us are often faced with the decision between choosing white rice or brown rice to accompany a meal. In the moment it can seem like a very benign and insignificant choice to make, but recent research has shown us that brown rice is a far superior health choice. For example, in 2019 a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition showed that providing overweight type 2 diabetics with brown rice instead of white rice for three months resulted in significant improvements in health parameters in the group ingesting the brown rice six days per week.
The brown rice group saw a significant drop in hemoglobin A1c, which is a marker for blood sugar control, as well as a decline in the bad cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and a decline in inflammatory blood markers. Moreover, epidemiology studies indicate that the consumption of white rice is strongly associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, while the opposite is true for brown rice consumption. Other studies dating back to 2014 have shown that brown rice, substituted for white rice, improves blood sugar regulation in diabetic subjects as well as cholesterol and inflammatory markers.
In January of 2023 an important study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Science showing that constituents found in brown rice, not present in white rice, also increase the body’s defense against free radical damage by boosting antioxidant levels. We are learning that brown rice contains a unique molecule known as CAF (cycloartenyl ferulate), which is not found in white rice. CAF, which is both a polyphenol and phytosterol substance, shows impressive antioxidant properties and turns on, like an epigenetic switch, the synthesis of another important antioxidant made by the body, known as heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). As well, brown rice contains various vitamin E compounds, which are also known to provide antioxidant protection in the body. The 2023 study showed that CAF in brown rice was able to significantly reduce free radical damage from hydrogen peroxide in mouse hepatoma cells, as a demonstration of its impressive antioxidant properties. It’s also worth mentioning that 100 gm (3.5 oz) of brown rice provides 1.6-2.0 gm of fiber, while the same amount of white rice contains only 0.4 gm of fiber. Most of the fiber in brown rice is insoluble fiber, which helps support bowel regularity. Some studies have also shown that eating brown rice instead of white rice aids in weight loss.
The bottom line is that brown rice is much superior to white rice for many reasons and the 2023 study has shown that it evens provides unexpected antioxidant support to the body, which is associated with slowing the aging process and guarding against other cellular damage from free radicals linked to many degenerative diseases.
I have included the study references in the text below.
Malik V.S. et al Substituting brown rice for white rice on diabetes risk factors in India: a randomized controlled study. British J Nutrition. 2019; 12 (12): 1389-1397. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/british-journal-of-nutrition/article/substituting-brown-rice-for-white-rice-on-diabetes-risk-factors-in-india-a-randomised-controlled-trial/A0778FC028F6F25D0E6A73787EECECC4
Hongyan Wu, Toshiyuki Nakamura, Yingnan Guo, Riho Matsumoto, Shintaro Munemasa, Yoshiyuki Murata, Yoshimasa Nakamura. Cycloartenyl Ferulate Is the Predominant Compound in Brown Rice Conferring Cytoprotective Potential against Oxidative Stress-Induced Cytotoxicity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2023; 24 (1): 822
Mohan V et al. Effect of brown rice, white rice and brow rice with legumes on blood glucose and insulin responses in overweight Indians: A randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Technol Ther. 2014; 16(5): 17-25. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24447043/
Brown vs White Rice – Is one better for your health? Healthline August 16, 2021. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/brown-vs-white-rice
Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,
Dr. James Meschino
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.